Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 & 18 July 2019)

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Date of Auction: 17th & 18th July 2019


Estimate: £3,600 - £4,600

An outstanding Great War B.E.F. 1914 operations D.S.O., Irish troubles 1920s O.B.E. group of seven awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel H. L. “Ham” Riley, Rifle Brigade, who was twice wounded in action with the 1st Battalion in the retreat from Mons, services that undoubtedly led to the recommendation for his D.S.O.: wounded for a third time before the War’s end, he nonetheless added the O.B.E. to his accolades for his services with the 2nd Battalion in Ireland in 1921-22

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Military) Officer’s 1st type breast badge, silver-gilt, hallmarks for London 1919; 1914 Star, with clasp (Capt. H. L. Riley, Rif: Bde.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf (Lt. Col. H. L. Riley); Delhi Durbar 1911; Montenegro, Order of St. Danilo, 4th Class breast badge, silver and enamel, generally good very fine or better (7) £3,600-£4,600


D.S.O. London Gazette 18 February 1915: ‘For services in connection with operations in the Field.’

O.B.E. London Gazette 1922.

Hamlet Lewthwaite Riley was born in October 1882, the son of Hamlet Riley and Anne, his wife, eldest daughter of the late William Lewthwaite. Educated at Eton and at Magdalen College, Oxford, he was commissioned in the Rifle Brigade in March 1906.

Advanced Lieutenant in February 1910, he served as Adjutant in India from February 1910 until February 1914, but he was back home as a recently promoted Captain by the outbreak hostilities.

Embarked for France as C.O. of ‘A’ Company in the 1st Battalion on the 19 August 1914, he was slightly wounded on the 26th at Cattenieres, and again at Ploegsteert Wood on 19 December, and was twice mentioned in despatches (London Gazettes 19 October 1914 and 7 February 1915, refer), and awarded the D.S.O.

Having then served with distinction in the 2nd Battalion, not least in an action to capture Bridoux Fort in September 1915, he was briefly a Staff Captain in 25th Infantry Brigade, prior to being appointed a Temporary Major in the 12th (Service) Battalion in October of the same year, and remained employed in that capacity until June 1916, when, having gained the Brevet of Major and been advanced to Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel, he took command of the Battalion. And he remained on active service as Battalion C.O. until December 1917, in which period the 12th saw much fighting on the Somme.

Wounded for a third time, seriously so, he was awarded the 5th Class of the Order of St. Danilo (London Gazette 9 March 1917, refers), and three further “mentions” (London Gazettes 15 June 1916, 25 May 1917 and 21 December 1917, refer).

Attached to the Machine Gun Corps in early 1918, he commanded the 20th Battalion up until the end of hostilities.

Returning to regimental employ after the War, Riley joined the 2nd Battalion out in Ireland - a ‘peculiarly unpleasant service’ as noted by his regimental obituarist - and one for which he was awarded the O.B.E. in 1922. But having then commanded the Battalion out in Turkey, he was compelled to resign his commission on his father’s death in 1924, in order to take up the management of his estates in Cumberland.

‘A courteous gentleman and a fine Rifleman’, Riley died in December 1932, aged 50 years.